Monitoring madness increases workload

Posted in ClassroomSolidarity's blog on Mon, 31/07/2006 - 20:21,

The new Ofsted inspection process with its focus on so-called self-evaluation has generated panic in leadership teams everywhere.
Desperate to avoid the labels “notice to improve” or “special measures” headteachers have introduced round the clock Ofsted style monitoring of teachers.
Two key components of this are lesson planning and lesson observations. Government and Ofsted obsession with standardised methods of teaching means lesson plans must include learning objectives and outcomes, links to prior learning, pointers to future learning, target grades for the group as well as the usual guff about starters, main activities and plenaries.
To make sure all this is happening in every lesson an increasing number of heads are insisting on an agreed lesson plan format across the school irrespective of subject or curriculum area. This is done in the name of consistency and it is being checked through lesson observations and the handing over of planning on a weekly basis.
Plans and lessons are checked using Ofsted style grids with over 15 ‘quality assurance’ criteria including such gems as “does the lesson plan support whole school literacy and the concepts of Every Child Matters.” And if your observed lessons do not generate enough ticked boxes they are unlikely to be above satisfactory.
The problem is that none of this will work unless your GCSE or SATs results meet whatever the government decides is acceptable. The exam statistics will be the deciding factor no matter what the Ofsted inspectors see with their own eyes.
The level of stress this is generating is impossible to estimate but with this kind of pressure an increasing number of teachers are sure to crack.
With the introduction of the Self Evaluation Form (SEF) it is urgent to strengthen the guidelines for observations, lesson planning as well as new focuses for the SEF, like the monitoring of student progress. The Union should support action in any schools where the guidelines are breached.

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